Ultimate Picture Palace

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Ultimate Picture Palace
Porticoed façade with two Roman Doric columns on square plinths. Two pairs of double doors flank a small ticket office.
Front of the Ultimate Picture Palace at night
Former namesOxford Picture Palace (1911–17)

Penultimate Picture Palace (1976–94)

Section 6 Cinema (1994)
AddressJeune Street, Oxford OX4 1BN
LocationEast Oxford, off Cowley Road
Coordinates51°44′55″N 1°14′22″W / 51.748704°N 1.239333°W / 51.748704; -1.239333Coordinates: 51°44′55″N 1°14′22″W / 51.748704°N 1.239333°W / 51.748704; -1.239333
Public transitOxford Bus Co 5, U5, U5X

Stagecoach buses 1, 10, 12

Thames Travel bus 11
Typeindependent cinema
Genre(s)independent films,
World cinema,
repertory cinema
Broke ground1910
Opened24 February 1911; 109 years ago (1911-02-24)
Renovated1976, 1994–96, 2014
Closed1917–76, 1994–96
Listed Building – Grade II
Official namePenultimate Picture Palace
CriteriaRare surviving example of a simple early cinema
Designated23 September 1994
Part ofGrouped with the Elm Tree pub next door
Reference no.1278732

The Ultimate Picture Palace is an independent cinema in Oxford, England. It is Oxford's only surviving independent cinema, showing a mixture of independent, mainstream, foreign language, and classic films.

The cinema has been a Grade II listed building since 1994.[1]


Frank Stuart opened Oxford's first cinema, the Electric Theatre, in Castle Street, in 1910. He was the licensee of the Elm Tree pub on the corner of Cowley Road and Jeune Street. Also in 1910 work started to build Stuart's second cinema on land in Jeune Street behind the Elm Tree. It opened on 24 February 1911 as the Oxford Picture Palace.[2]

In 1917 the manager was conscripted to serve in the First World War. The cinema was closed and stood unused for many years before being turned into a furniture warehouse.[3]

In 1976 Bill Heine and Pablo Butcher[3] reopened the cinema as the Penultimate Picture Palace.[4] They added a sculpture of Al Jolson's hands by John Buckley to the façade.[2] The first film to be shown was Winstanley. Under the new management the cinema gained a reputation for showing an eclectic and provocative range of films that set it apart from the mainstream cinemas of the time.

In 1994 Heine closed the Penultimate Picture Palace.[5] For a month that summer it was squatted by the Oxford Freedom Network, which reopened it as Studio 6 Cinema. Then brothers Saied and Zaid Marham bought it and spent £40,000 restoring the neoclassical façade.[6] They reopened it as the Ultimate Picture Palace in June 1996.

The auditorium before the 2014 refurbishment

In the 2000s the cinema got into debt. In July 2009 Saied Marham sold it to Philippa Farrow and Jane Derricott, who installed a small refreshment bar in the northwest corner of the auditorium.[5]

In 2011 Farrow and Derricott sold the cinema to Becky Hallsmith. In 2014, as a result of a successful Kickstarter Campaign, Hallsmith had the auditorium refurbished with new seats.[3]

Becky Hallsmith died in September 2018. A committee has since been investigating the potential for turning The Ultimate Picture Palace into a community-owned cinema.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Historic England. "Penultimate Picture Palace  (Grade II) (1278732)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
  2. ^ a b Hibbert, Christopher, ed. (1988). "Cinemas". The Encyclopaedia of Oxford. London: Macmillan. pp. 88–89. ISBN 0-333-39917-X.
  3. ^ a b c "History of the UPP". Ultimate Picture Palace. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  4. ^ Heine, Bill (2011). The Hunting of the Shark. Oxford: Oxford Folio. pp. 22–23. ISBN 978-0-9567405-2-6. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015.
  5. ^ a b "Ultimate Picture Palace". Oxford: Daily Info. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
  6. ^ Wollenberg, Anne (15 November 2011). "Cine-files: Ultimate Picture Palace, Oxford". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 10 December 2012.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]